“I had an [artistic] vision in my brain. I didn’t know what it was or how to start it. When I saw a Robert Rauschenenburg documentary and saw him doing image transfer process, I knew that was it. That’s what I wanted to do,” says Knoxville artist/bartender Zach Searcy.
Some of my influences besides Robert Rauschenburg are Mark Rothko, Jasper Jones, Sigmar Polke, and Picasso’s Cubism. – Zach Searcy
Searcy learned this technique by using the Internet. He says, “It took a lot of Googling. I looked at weird digital art for a year or two. I bought print samples from different printing companies. I ended up buying an HP design jet. I tried out different types of ink and settled on water base dye ink. I also tried different types of polymers or chemicals that strip the ink from printed documents.
“After I learned how to use all these ingredients, then I could play. While I build up a lot of layers in paint, I wouldn’t call myself a painter. I don’t know how to paint. I edit everything until it looks like what it should look like.”
The process is such a journey in itself. – Zach Searcy
Zach says his early experiments were “almost strictly collage when I was learning how composition works and how to move someone’s eye around.
“If you look at my earlier work, like “Car Trouble,” you can see more of Rauschenburg’s influence.
“I want the colors to be kind of like a party. I like high energy, dancing, vibrancy. I like layers to be there. I like the push and pull of the compositions. I like to play with loose and tight.
“This process is so physical. I used stretched canvas to make the images. Print images have heavy texture. To get the paper and ink to make contact I must apply pressure, and I can’t do that on canvas. I put the canvas on wooden blocks. When I put the image down, I apply a polymer. I use a 24” long rolling pin for monolithic print making. It’s just labor, labor, labor, because I cannot afford a printing press.
Sometimes images don’t transfer like you thought they would. Sometimes the image is a nice surprise and sometimes it’s a big mistake. The process is such a journey in itself.”
Not From Here
In preparing his successful gallery show Not From Here, Searcy says he “wanted to make art work that looked like it was made on a different planet yet it dealt with the same human condition we do, too.” Searcy was May’s featured artist at Paulk + Co. “Making this show wore me out. I made most of it in 4 months.”
Searcy continues, “A big angle about my art work is wanting to keep everything handmade. Hands and touch are a big deal to me. I’m trying to make things that are digitally influenced but I still want the human hand to be a big part of it. I didn’t want to lose that.”
© Debra Dylan, 2014.
Cover Photo: Kenneth Jameson Parker.
All other images provided by Zach Searcy.